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ISBT Congress - What’s in it for the Transfusion Practitioners?

35th International Congress of the International Society of Blood Transfusion:
What’s in it for the Transfusion Practitioners?

By Clare O’Reilly on behalf of CSTM and ISBT Transfusion Practitioner Forum

As a nurse who works in the fascinating field of Transfusion Medicine, I am looking forward to attending and participating in the upcoming 35th International Congress of the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT). The Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine (CSTM) will host the ISBT conference in Toronto from June 2nd to 6th, with a CSTM local day meeting on June 1st. ISBT 2018 will be my first time to attend an ISBT conference, and it seems fitting that my first ISBT conference is on home soil in Canada.

I attended the CSTM conference in Vancouver in 2015 and was fortunate to have the chance to volunteer at the event. One of the highlights of the CSTM 2015 was meeting attendees from across Canada and overseas. It was great to put faces to names I had previously only seen in emails, on websites, and in published articles. Conferences are an excellent opportunity for catching up with friends, networking and making new connections as well as outstanding learning events.  However, funding for attending conferences is limited, and as a nurse working in the field of transfusion medicine, a crucial decision making factor has been "what does this conference offer me?" I want to ensure that the conference, educational day or workshop offers content specific to my role in transfusion medicine. My title is Transfusion Safety Nurse Clinician; however, a generic term is transfusion practitioner, and for the remainder of this blog I will use the term Transfusion Practitioner.

ISBT and CSTM have collaborated to offer a stimulating educational and scientific program, which includes two-afternoon sessions for Transfusion Practitioners and a networking breakfast.  The focus of this blog is the Transfusion Practitioner-specific content, and for a detailed outline of the programme please refer to the conference brochure.

Transfusion Practitioners often feel isolated as the role is an evolving role and they may work alone for extended periods. Attendance at education days, workshops and conferences offer the Transfusion Practitioner valuable learning and networking opportunities. No matter how experienced you are, everyone can learn, and a conference is an excellent learning environment. Attending ISBT has the additional benefit of being an international meeting with the chance to meet peers and experts from outside of Canada and understand why we’re not that different really, and although we often feel we work alone, we are all cogs in a vast international transfusion world. ISBT gives a unique (and for some a once in a career) opportunity to meet and talk to likeminded people from all over the world.
At ISBT 2018 there are two Transfusion Practitioner-specific sessions in the packed programme.  The Transfusion Practitioner sessions offers attendees a unique learning experience. Transfusion Practitioners have developed the sessions, for Transfusion Practitioners and Transfusion Practitioners will lead the sessions.
The first session is on Monday, June 4th, between 14:00 and 15:30. The theme is "The Transfusion Practitioner role in the stewardship of blood", and the three presentations cover diverse topics and offer an international and local perspective. The presentations are:
  • The Transfusion Practitioner and disaster planning
  • The Transfusion Practitioner role in minimising blood wastage
  • Is ONTraC on track? A fifteen-year experience
The second session is on Tuesday, June 5th, between 14:00 and 15:30. This session is comprised of the ISBT Transfusion Practitioner survey feedback and selected transfusion practitioner abstracts.
Attending sessions at conferences is energising, there is nothing like being in a room of like-minded people, who like yourself have taken time out for self-improvement. The Transfusion Practitioner sessions at ISBT 2018 present a rare opportunity to meet with experts from across Canada and all over the world and ask questions. In between sessions you can mingle with your peers, share ideas and make connections. 

One of the benefits of attending conferences is for networking opportunities. Admittedly there are multiple ways to "connect" with peers; however, there is no substitute for meeting people in real life.  The Transfusion Practitioner networking breakfast is an excellent occasion for Transfusion Practitioners, and those interested in developing the role, to connect and discuss common interests and establish links that can be further improved throughout the congress and beyond. The breakfast is on Monday, June 4th from 07:00 to 08:30 and will take place in an informal setting. The theme for the breakfast is "Sharpen the Saw” (the seventh habit of highly effective people according to Stephen Covey). The goal of the networking breakfast is to facilitate the sharing ideas and an opportunity for Transfusion Practitioners to learn new ideas and approaches that will make them more effective and efficient in their work. Many conference attendees report that serendipitous ‘hallway conversations” are unexpected bonuses; the networking breakfast is the ideal location for making these connections.

Attending a conference can also be a fun experience and add an aspect of enjoyment to further education and career development. 



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